Benji Aryee remembers vividly the moment he first stepped aboard a Mercy Ship. It was April 10, 2010.
“It was exactly lunchtime, 12 o’clock,” Benji said, laughing as he recalled his own excitement.
When he walked up the gangway, he said to himself, “Finally. Finally. This is where God has led me.’
Benji planned to spend six months onboard. Eleven years later, he’s what’s known around Mercy Ships as a “long-termer.” Only now, he’s transitioned to the newly built Global Mercy®, set to make her maiden voyage to Senegal in 2022.
Benji believes it was God’s leading that kept him on the Mercy Ships crew for so long, allowing him to be a part of this historic moment on the purpose-built hospital ship.
“Many times I tried to go back to commercial ships,” Benji said. “It never worked. And I was like, ‘OK, this is where you want me to be. … There’s a full calling.’”
Working in the engineering department on the newest hospital ship, Benji knows that he’s part of something special. The Mercy Ships fleet is doubling, and with that comes a need for a whole new crew of volunteers. Those volunteers, some in engineering roles like Benji’s, will enable the Global Mercy to bring a new wave of free surgeries and medical training to sub-Saharan Africa.
In his department, Benji and his fellow volunteers like to say they’re “powering hope and healing.”
“As technical personnel, you come and use your skills to bring hope and healing,” he said. “It’s a blessing.”
Benji is currently serving with the ship in Antwerp, as she undergoes her final equipping phase before setting sail. He plans to travel onboard as she visits Rotterdam in early 2022, lowering the gangway for a limited time to allow visitors to come aboard and tour the hospital for themselves. Then, the crew will set sail for Senegal.
Benji feels the weight and anticipation of this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
“There’s a reason why God chose you from the Africa Mercy to bring you on the Global Mercy,” a friend recently said to him. “There’s something waiting for you.”
Benji’s technical position on the Global Mercy is called “hotel technician.” In that role, he helps to operate and maintain a vast array of systems within the engineering department, like HVACR, vacuum and sewage, freshwater, and waste disposal.
But his role goes deeper than that.
“My nonprofessional role on the ship is bringing people together,” Benji said. “It’s a gift that God has given me. I always try to create that atmosphere of peace and harmony.”
Benji knows his unique gift has made a difference in the engineering department.
“Sometimes the officers and everyone will testify that they are really grateful to have such a person,” he said. “It’s not only about the work, work, work, but also having a certain atmosphere that I bring.”
Benji is good at seeing special talents in others, too.
“There is nobody above anybody,” he said. “You have your uniqueness; I also have my uniqueness.”
Benji loves to see that uniqueness in each new volunteer he meets. That’s why after over a decade with Mercy Ships, he still can’t wait to see who walks up the gangway next.
“Maybe I’ve been here for so many years, and I know certain things,” he said. “But you also have something new.”
Whether you’re a medical professional, an engineer, a mariner, a photographer, or a receptionist, there’s a place for you with Mercy Ships. With the Global Mercy joining the Africa Mercy in field service, Mercy Ships has an urgent need for more volunteers to crew the two ships. Interested in joining the team?